Good new this week for breeders involved with the Sheep Ireland breed improvement programme as the genotyping service provided via Sheep Ireland has now been approved by the Department of Agriculture, food & the Marine (DAFM) for generating scrapie results as part of the National Genotype Programme.
There has already been an impressive uptake in the Sheep Ireland subsidised genotyping of pedigree animals since it was launched in May of this year, with over 1,400 pedigree animals subsequently ordered via the Sheep Ireland website, bringing the total number of Irish sheep genotyped to date close to 40,000. This demand has been primarily driven by breeders wanting to DNA parentage validate their lambs. This latest milestone is just one more reason now for more breeders to start genotyping their flock to help them build a picture of the current scrapie status of the flock.
One of the major benefits of getting a DAFM scrapie result via Sheep Ireland is that the breeder can collect the sample themselves. The process to date required a vet to come on farm and collect a blood sample from the animal being sent for scrapie genotyping. The vet was required to verify that the relevant blood sample was taken from the correct animal. Sheep Ireland scrapie genotyping process now allows a DNA sample to be collected via a small ear tissue sample using a third tag (similar to the genomics tags used in the bovine BDGP scheme). The number printed on this third tag corresponds to the animals existing NSIS tag. DNA parentage verification verifies that the correct animal has been DNA sampled and ensures that the scrapie results are 100% robust and accurate. In order to achieve full DAFM approval, both parents of the sheep in question must also be genotyped and both parents must successfully match to their offspring. For purchaser of rams this parentage verification is a fantastic advantage.
Breeders can order and pay for their genotypes via their Sheep Ireland account and they will receive a tissue tag in the post 3-5 working days later along with a return addressed envelope. Once the DNA sample is collected and returned, breeders can expect to have the results on their accounts between 2-4 weeks later depending on the demand at that time of year. The current cost of genotyping is currently subsidised for LambPlus breeders to €10/sample, so there is also a substantial cost saving.
If any breeder would like to arrange an approved Scrapie Certificate from the DAFM for a parentage verified animal that has been genotyped via Sheep Ireland please contact Sheep Ireland on 0238820451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheep Ireland is continuing to work on enhance the return on investment from genotyping and are planning on launching genomic evaluations next year which would be a considerable milestone for the Irish Sheep Industry as very few other countries have achieved this to date.